Oakland Voices grad applies learning to her health sector job

By Jennifer Neutel

Skills gained via program ‘invaluable’: Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown says her Oakland Voices experience enabled a shift in her thinking around finding opportunities for positive relationships with the media in her public health sector work.

Oakland community members pictured during training as part of Oakland Voices, a program that provides citizens with journalistic skills to produce content for news organizations.
Oakland community members pictured during training as part of Oakland Voices, a program that provides citizens with journalistic skills to produce content for news organizations.

Oakland Voices is a nine-month program that trains community members to produce news content for local news organizations. Ten Oakland, Calif. community correspondents learn about reporting, writing, photography and social media from professional journalists. The participants produce regular stories for the Oakland Voices site and some appear in the Oakland Tribune newspaper and website.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to show a different side of the city that people often don’t see or forget about,” says Brown, who graduated the program in 2012.

She says there’s often disconnect between media and the public health sector, and she now recognizes the goals and functions of the two sectors are not that different and there are ways to connect.

Something often talked about in the Voices program is the idea of fault lines, referring to areas in a story that may split people’s opinions when looking at race, gender, ethnicity or geographic boundaries. This also happens in public health, often referred to as inequalities, Brown says.

Katherine Brown
      Katherine Brown

“How can we, from those similarities, foster a relationship and collaboration? I think that really helped me think about that,” she says.

Staff from the Oakland Tribune will be providing journalism skills development training to Brown’s colleagues on June 11.

She says she thought it would be helpful for others to have a similar experience and give more opportunities for people from different communities to have a journalistic voice.

“The skills we learned within that program are invaluable,” she says, noting things like how to find a story, how to interview people and how to take photos or make a small film were things she learned thanks to the program.

Brown says she never would have thought she’d create a documentary, which she did last year of a youth group she works with. She’s planning to continue a story series started through Voices about love in the city and explore hope in Oakland through video.

“I think that whole experience has opened up more avenues for possibilities that I am still learning as time goes by and I reflect on what I took away from the training,” Brown says.

Brown says the Voices program is essential as it gives an opportunity for different perspectives to come to light. It is also an opportunity to have a close connection with a newspaper like the Oakland Tribune.

“Projects like Oakland Voices really helps to really bring back that community perspective, that community voice, and I really think it’s very needed,” she says.

Brown says her class of 10 correspondents reflected the diversity in the city, and getting to know each other on a personal level — especially at the orientation — strengthened the program.

The experience reacquainted her with writing and telling stories, which she enjoyed when she was younger.

The Oakland Voices curriculum is devised by program partner and fiscal sponsor, The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The program has since expanded, with two Voices programs in Jackson, Miss., a modified version in Philadelphia in 2013, and Sacramento Voices is starting this year.

Visit http://oaklandvoices.us/ to learn more.

Read Related Story:
Oakland Voices empowers citizen journalism

— Oakland Voices is one of three pilot sites participating in the ASNE/Journalism That Matters partnership exploring how and why news organizations are engaging with their communities. This story is written by Axiom News.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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